Having written the occasional piece for The Mag over the years, it’s interesting sometimes to look back at what you’ve written to see where your thoughts and predictions turn out to be right…and where they turn out to be hopelessly wrong.

Just before the final game of last season I wrote a piece optimistically looking to the summer ahead, and listing the five things I thought NUFC needed to have a good summer.

The piece back in May was entitled: ‘Newcastle United – 5 things that would make this a good summer.’

So here we are, with the new season about to start – how many of my five wishes have we got?

A new contract for Rafa

Back in May 2018:

“The key to everything really… I’ll be looking to see agreement on a new contract early in the close season. If that happens we can be hopeful – not just because the club will be keeping its biggest asset, but as a sign that Rafa has been given the assurances he needs to persuade him to stay.”

Now:

Well as we all know now, Rafa wasn’t given the assurances he needed. The only silver lining is that for the moment he’s still with us – but one prediction I think can be made confidently, is that in 12 months time Ashley and Rafa won’t both be at the club. One or other of them will be gone.

For Mike Ashley to keep his word

Back in May 2018:

“Ashley has been absolutely clear that he isn’t going to put cash in. But he has said in terms that Rafa can have every spare penny that the club generates. We can’t realistically hope for any more than that – but we can hope that Ashley will keep his word, and that there will be a decent amount of money made available for Rafa to spend.

How much? Not being on the inside, it’s impossible to say. But if Ashley is good to his word, you would expect Newcastle to have an overall budget for transfers and wages comparable to other teams outside the top 6. My guess would be that Rafa will have about £50M plus sales to work with.”

Now:

Ah – how naïve that sounds now. £50M plus sales????? Back in May it all seemed so reasonable!

It turns out I was nothing but a poor, fond, optimistic fool! £50M plus sales, indeed!

There were plenty of you out there back in May saying that we wouldn’t spend anything. Doom-mongers, I thought you were. But it turns out you were right and I was completely wrong.

In fact, even most of the pessimistic wing of the NUFC Doom-Mongers Association didn’t foresee that amidst the financial bonanza of the Premier League, we would actually turn a net transfer profit of £20m or whatever it is. Staggering! I would say it was unbelievable, if I hadn’t seen just seen it unfold before my very eyes.

Sign Dubravka quickly, and offer £20M for Kenedy.

Back in May 2018:

“If any proof were needed that Rafa knows what he’s doing with player recruitment, these two are the evidence. I for one was a bit nonplussed about the ongoing stories last year about Rafa’s search for another keeper …But seeing the difference Dubravka has made, I’ve got to doff my cap to Rafa – he knows his stuff. And we can all see why he was so keen for so long to bring Kenedy to the club. He wouldn’t come cheap, but if we could get him for £20M I reckon that would be good business.”

Now:

Well we got most of the way on this one. Unfortunately, we didn’t buy Kenedy (“offer £20M”!!! – what was I thinking?) – but at least we get to watch him in black-and-white for another season.

A new forward line

Back in May 2018:

“You would expect one or two of our keepers to leave in the summer with Dubravka to sign. You would expect us to be looking for some cover and competition at full-back, with Gamez and Haidara to leave. There might be need for another centre-back since Rafa clearly doesn’t like the cut of Mbemba’s jib… In midfield there might be the odd player traded out for whatever reason (maybe Merino if he wants to leave) and a replacement brought in.

I’ll be looking for all our available money to get spent on someone to play wide on the left (hopefully Kenedy), competition with Perez at no 10, and two front-line strikers. I’m assuming that Mitrovic will go…I can see Gayle leaving as well – though I’d be happy for him to stay. If I was manager of a team looking to get out of the Championship, Gayle would be right at the top of my wish-list…And I can see Adam Armstrong being sold this summer as well.

So for me a good summer’s business would be for Rafa to have about £50m plus say £35m from selling Mitrovic, Gayle and Armstrong. Hopefully spend £20m on Kenedy. That would leave about £60M plus to buy a number 10 and two centre-forwards.”

Now:

And when you look at it, that wasn’t a million miles off on the players-out side. It was on the player-in side that I was about 60 million miles out.

Having said all of that, looking at the players who have come in, I’m hopeful that Rafa has made the best out of what was the lousiest hand imaginable – and our starting 11 looks to me a shade better than last season.

It’s when you look behind the first 11 that you worry. What happens if Dummett or Yedlin or Lascelles or Shelvey or Perez gets injured? I have no idea.

Keep hold of Jamaal Lascelles

Back in May 2018:

“Our skipper is going to have his head turned by all sorts of talk this summer. I think he’s a sensible lad. I hope that he’s able to see that if Rafa stays then things are going in the right direction, and he has the chance to make himself a legend at Newcastle. Better that than a sub at Chelsea.”

Now:

Well, this one I got – although looking at it now it seems pretty clear that Lascelles probably won’t be with us for long. I said earlier that Rafa and Ashley won’t both be at the club in 12 months time – and I think we can say the same about Lascelles and Ashley. If Ashley is still with us this time next year, our manager and our captain will both surely be gone.

To conclude then, looking on the bright side we still have Rafa, and our first 11 looks to me a touch stronger than last season. They were a good bunch of lads last year – most of us enjoyed watching them, and almost all of the key players from that team are still with us.

But other than that it has been a right royal lash-up. A shambles. The mother-of-all-shambles.

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  • glassjawsh-got-banned

    fat t!tted sack of [email protected]

  • wheyayeman

    How about a full stadium shouting Ashley Out / When Rafa Goes We Go on 11 minutes every game to mark 11 Miserable years. Id also like to see the supporters actually calling out the fake friends at the Ronnie Gill who have never used their platform to expose Jabba

  • The BBC is FAKENEWS

    The one wish we all had (with one or two simple exceptions), and we continue to have is for Mike Ashley to get out of our football club for good.

    • Ben Jones

      That’s what I think this window was all about personally, positioning the clubs finances to be too good to refuse for a buyer

      • Kenny

        🤡 listeria prawn sarnies for trolls

        • Ben Jones

          Still doing gods work Kenny.

          24/7 relentless.

          Here’s a comment….here boy… here boy..

          • Milburn_Taylor

            i think you`re his pet troll

          • Kenny

            No, he’s vermin

          • Ben Jones

            When I talk he comes, he acts on my command, not the other way round, he’s a good doggy

          • Kenny

            💩💩💩 troll

          • Ben Jones

            Good boy, here’s another comment

            Go fetch…

  • Ron

    I had the same visions (well almost) but with a tad more to spend, and I was utterly convinced we’d shatter our signing record at least twice. Sad, disillusioned, fed up and I hate Ashley more than I could ever describe.

    • Jezza

      NUFC were never going to spend big this summer. Ashley was never going to allow any of the profits to be invested in a team that finished 10th when they only need to finish 17th.

  • Milburn_Taylor

    i had one wish, but he`s still here

  • Nut

    All in all we strengthened, I can say this because the players that have left were not getting near the first team apart from Gayle. Every single player we have signed in this window strengthens us because hopefully they are all players that Rafa will happily play rather that leave on the sidelines, this definately gives us more strength in depth.

    Ok we haven’t signed a left back or a number 10 two glaring holes we wanted filled but we bought in 2 strikers Muto and Rondon who definately will make us stronger up front. 2 centre backs Schar and Fernández who will add depth, more quality and competition to those positions.

    A goalkeeper who is arguably world class in Dubravka. A winger Kennedy albeit on loan (for now and I think this is why we haven’t spent those transfer fees coming in so we can earmark the money to buy him) who is potentially showing glimpses of being headed that way. A midfielder Ki Sung Yong who has the potential to rekindle a very competitive partnership with Shelvey in the middle of the pitch wit has an understanding once more which they had before. And a young very promising striker Yannick Toure from Switzerland.

    Now if someone had told me we would bring in 7 players that would improve us before this window, pottentially 8 if you include Yannick Toure who I think will hit the first team this season sooner rather than later having watched him, I would have been astounded.

    Personally I think we have done some very good and smart business which cut a lot of the deadwood from the side not to mention wages and even though we haven’t got the number 10 and left back Rafa desired in, it’s something I hope we will address come January.

    The fact we have done this and made a profit is unbelievable and to be honest I don’t really mind, I expect in time the profit will find its way back into the team or be used as a sweetner in Rafa’s contract offer if they are clever put towards improving the training facilities/ accademies and youth player set ups as per Rafa’s previously expresed wishes. If they did this I would be quite happy actually as it might get Rafa to sign to stay on.

    My understanding is we were in for a left back from Monaco but the reports I read earlier suggest it fell through due to his work permit pottentially taking too long. Now not sure if this report is true but its my understanding work permits could be sorted out after the event or allow you a bit of extra time to do the business so not 100 % convinced it’s off yet. Guess we shall see as the true deals don’t always show today.

    • Milburn_Taylor

      another battle against relegation isn`t smart business when there`s millions lying in the bank & that`s before the Tv money, sponsors & past money from players sold, smart, i don`t think so

      • Nut

        It won’t be a battle against relegation trust me, this side is a lot stronger than many in the premier league with after last season more experience!

        • BanJones

          You don’t know how strong the other teams are until you have seen them a few times so your confidence is misplaced – sorry like. West Brom, Swansea and Stoke all had more experience than us last season but still went down.

          • Jezza

            You’re debating with a troll, marra. Nut is another alias of the troll who posts as Ben Jones.

          • BanJones

            “Trust me” – never trust anyone who says that, i’ll add him to the banned list – it’s growing by the day.

    • TheFatController

      Sadly you’ve not mentioned the key factor of the strengthening the opposition have made.

      It’s all relative. Last season there were three basket cases propping up the PL all season – we can’t hope that Pardew etc all will be employedthis season. Most clubs have gone for the right managers – and backed those managers with positive balances on transfers .

      Every club can say they shifted their deadwood in the summer. We’re not unique in that.

  • Jezza

    “In fact, even most of the pessimistic wing of the NUFC Doom-Mongers Association didn’t foresee….a net transfer profit of £20m”

    I must be the king of the doom mongers then because back in May I was predicting a £60 million profit (based partly on the assumption that somebody would come in with a big bid for Lascelles).

    You didn’t have to be a doom monger or a clairvoyant to realise that Ashley was never going to dip into the profits to strengthen the team this summer. You just need to know how his mind works. He was never going to allow significant money to be put into a team that finished 10th when they only need to finish 17th. Simple as that.

    To be truthful this window worked out less badly than I expected. I genuinely believed that both Rafa and Lascelles would be gone by now and that Dubravka for £4 million would be our biggest buy. Don’t get me wrong, this window has been an utterly shambolic disaster but back in May I expected it to be even worse.

    • Milburn_Taylor

      i was expecting Rafa to get 2 of his first choice players, at the end of the day he didn`t get any. i predict that when he leaves next year Lascelles and Shelvey will quickly follow suit

      • mentalman

        He got kenedy and dubravka

    • TheFatController

      Jezza, you have been steadfast in calling it as it now is, fair play.

      With Lascelles, I believe Leicester had all their ducks in a row to replace Maguire, but maybe with Mahrez gone didn’t get the offer they wanted from an it’s and could play hardball and didn’t need to sell.

      Had they not had the comfort zone the Maher’s money gave them, I do believe Maguire would be at man it’s and Lascelles at Leicester – close to home for him etc

      • Jezza

        One thing is for certain, if a suitable bid had come in for Lascelles, Ashley would have sold him in an instant. I’m sure the helicopter was in the North East on standby during the last couple of days of the window.

  • Superdooperhooper

    We’re the @rse end of the premier league pantomime horse again